What could possibly be as satisfying as seeing gorgeous muscles pop after your strength training workouts? Fast and fun workouts, that’s what! If you’re time-crunched, there’s no need to spend hours in the gym. Just try these 5 fun full-body exercises to feel the burn and do it fast.
More mountain climbers and burpees you say? Nope – these are creative alternatives you can integrate into your existing workout or as a routine of its own. Each compound exercise engages your core for balance and stability while recruiting both your upper and lower body muscles. All you need are a pair of dumbbells (5 to 10 pounds is a good starting point).
A few tips:
- Do these exercises 2-3 times a week. If you’re a beginner, do two sets; intermediate or advanced do three sets. Do these exercises circuit style (one set of each with no rest until the first round is done) or do all sets of each exercise, rest, and move on to the next. For the seriously time-crunched, do 10-minute chunks throughout the day!
- As the exercises get easier, add more weight. After 4-6 weeks, mix in some different exercises such as kettle bell swings, the deadlift clean and press, and the squat to overhead press, for example (check Bodybuilding.com for exercise videos).
- To target specific muscles more fully, add in additional exercises (as I discuss in 10 Tips for Strong, Defined Arms and Shoulders).
1. Lateral Lunge with Overhead Press
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, holding a light to medium dumbbell in your right hand. Take a big step out to the side with your left foot, bending your left leg while keeping the right leg straight. Keeping your back flat, reach down to the left foot with the hand holding the dumbbell. Push off with your left heel to come back to a standing position, bringing the dumbbell to shoulder height, palm facing out. Press the dumbbell overhead. Return the dumbbell to your side and repeat for 10 reps on the left. Then switch to your right leg/left shoulder.
2. Stiff-legged Deadlift to Upright Row with Calf Raise
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and a medium dumbbell in each hand. Keeping your legs straight with only a slight bend in your knees, bend at the waist, pushing your hips back while lowering the dumbbells towards your mid-shins. You should feel the tension in your hamstrings. Return to standing and pull your elbows up as if zipping a coat, palms facing down. Rise up on your toes and then lower your heels and the weights. Repeat for 10-12 reps.
3. Basketball Lunge with Bent-over Row
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and a medium dumbbell in each hand. Take a big step forward with your left leg so that your right leg is straight and your left knee is bent, a few inches from the floor. Now bend forward at the waist so that your chest is touching or almost touching your left thigh. Pull both elbows back, hands coming towards your chest, keeping palms facing towards you. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and then lower the weights, pushing off with your front heel to return to standing. Alternate legs for a total of 12-15 reps.
4. Pushup with Leg Raise
Get on all fours on the floor and straighten your body so that the weight is in your toes and hands. Beginner: Bend your knees and put the weight on your knees and hands. Ensure that your hands are about shoulder-width apart, directly under your shoulders and your back is flat. Now bend your elbows into a pushup (all the way down!) and then push back up. Now raise your left leg, keeping it as straight as possible, and squeeze your left glute. Lower, repeat the pushup and the leg lift with your right leg. Continue alternating for as many pushup reps as you can do.
5. Squat with Bicep Curl/Tricep Kickback
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, holding a light to medium dumbbell in each hand. With the weight in your heels, sit back using your hips and bend your knees to about 90 degrees. Now bend your arms, palms up, lifting the dumbbells to your chest keeping your shoulders back and elbows stationary. As you stand back up, lower the weights back down. Do 10-12 reps. Tip: Mix this up by doing triceps kickbacks instead of curls. In the lowered squat position, bend your arms to 90 degrees and then straighten your elbows.
Have fun with these and let me know how you like them!